C.B.H. ARC Review: “Dead Girls Can’t Lie” By Carys Jones

C.B.H. ARC Review: “Dead Girls Can’t Lie” By Carys Jones

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads
Publisher: Aria
Release Date: August 15th, 2017

 

**Disclaimer – I received this book via NetGalley and Aria in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.

 

 

If you awoke from sleep to discover your best friend committed suicide, what would you do? What if the circumstances surrounding the suicide left more questions than answers to you? What if the events leading to the suicide made no sense whatsoever…..maybe even set off alarms in your head that it may not be a suicide after all….but a murder?

North Stone loses her best friend Kelly in what the local authorities rule out to be a suicide. Deep in her gut, North believes this is all wrong. She’s known Kelly her whole life and the events surrounding her death were the direct opposite to how Kelly would act. North begins to go down a rabbit hole filled with self discovery, a mysterious pregnancy, and answers she may not like.

My Review

North is one of those characters you truly sympathize with on some levels. She lost her parents at an early age where normal kids were discovering who they were. Instead, she never truly grasps who she is which is where Kelly comes in. Kelly is a stubborn, attention-grabbing girl who seems to always get her way with anything and anyone. Fast forward to when they are adults and Kelly all of a sudden commits suicide.

Because North practically spent her time attached to the hip with Kelly except for the last three months of her life, North immediately becomes suspicious. Now as much as I can understand her reaction, her and Kelly’s relationship almost feels kind of toxic in some ways. North does not know how to survive without Kelly making decisions for her and whisking her off from what adventure to another. A few land them in trouble where North takes the fall for Kelly’s actions.

We are given flashbacks to various occasions when the girls were growing up where we get the feeling of the girl’s personalities through their lives. We see Kelly is this “free-spirit” who wanted to make sure everyone knew her while North hung back as Kelly’s shadow most of the time. After Kelly’s death, we see North struggle with finding her footing as a person and even taking on Kelly’s personality at times in order to engage with people around her during her investigation into Kelly’s death.

In the end, this book needed a bit of work. Was it engaging? Yes. However, it was predictable. There were tropes in this novel that have been used repeatedly in mystery/thrillers both in print, films, and television shows I’ve seen over the years.

The unhealthy relationship between North and Kelly was a turn off as well. How can you continue to be friends with someone who causes you to lose your own identity and prevent your growth due to your dependence upon them? I get it if you are best friends, but there is a line between being controlled and being friends because of a connection. I wish North grew more in the novel, I honestly did. She had potential to be more than an obsessed “friend” who had concern over a friend’s mysterious death….

 

Rating 6

 

Happy Reading!

 

~C.C.

 

C.B.H. ARC Review – Emma In the Night By: Wendy Walker

C.B.H. ARC Review – Emma In the Night By: Wendy Walker

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Emma In the Night

**Disclaimer: I received this courtesy of SheSpeaks and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.**

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 8th, 2017

“What Happened To Emma?”

On a dark night three years ago, sisters Emma and Cass disappeared without a trace from their home in Maine. Through endless searches, interviews, and an investigation leading nowhere – the police practically give up hope on finding the missing girls. That is until Cass turns up on her mother’s doorstep, wildly asking where her sister is and that the police must find her before it’s too late.

The narrative is told from the perspective of Cass and forensic psychologist Abby Winter’s perspective. The more I read and attempted to predict how the story unfolded, Cass’s internal dialogue would take over in the story and change it’s course. To the world, they knew Cass and her family as a happy one, but behind closed doors we discover secrets, rampant narcissism, affairs, and darker motives than meet the eye.

This past weekend, I spent pouring over this book from cover to cover and couldn’t seem to peel my attention away from it. It triggers suspense and endless questions your inner detective will beg to be answered. It’s truly a novel to add to your Suspense/Thriller TBR List!

 

Rating 8

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

C.B.H. ARC REVIEW: THE BREAKDOWN By B.A. Paris

C.B.H. ARC REVIEW: THE BREAKDOWN By B.A. Paris

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Available: Amazon/Goodreads/B&N
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 18, 2017

**Disclaimer: I received this courtesy of SheSpeaks and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.**

Why Didn’t You Stop?”

 

 

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I read B.A. Paris’ gripping thriller Behind Closed Doors (see review here) where a couple’s marriage isn’t always what it seems. Now, B.A. Paris comes back for round two where a woman finds out by not stopping to help someone in a broken-down car, can lead to dire consequences. But what will get to her first? A dark figure lurking in the darkness or her own guilt?

The book opens up to a dreary, rainy night. Cass Anderson decides to take a shortcut in order to get home quicker, despite her husband’s warning to take the regular route home. On her way, she notices a broken down car on the side of the road. She wrestles with whether she should make sure the person in the car is alright or stay on course.

Fast forward to the morning after, she learns the woman in the car was murdered and the woman just so happened to be an acquaintance of Cass’s. She begins to go into this downward spiral of guilt and paranoia. Guilt from the murder, but her paranoia stems from the fact she is beginning to loose her memory. Even the simplest things are beginning to fade away, but the memory of that night remains constant. But then the phone calls start…..and she begins to believe someone is watching her…..will she figure out who the killer is before it’s too late?

~

This book has a large set of shoes to fill considering how good Behind Closed Doors was. Did it meet up to expectations? Yes and no. B.A. Paris is fantastic with her pacing and build up. Where it lacks is in lists of suspects and characters as well as the reveal at the end. I don’t want predictability attached to my mystery. I want to be surprised! Or at least allow the reveal not be from an obvious character right away.

Aside from those complaints, this book is very well-conceived and written. Will B.A. Paris come out with another novel next year is my question and will it exceed expectations? Or will her next novel make us wonder….

“If you can’t trust yourself…..who can you trust?”

 

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

 

~C.C.

ARC Review: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles By J.M. Sullivan

ARC Review: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles By J.M. Sullivan

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads/IndieBound

 

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy via NetGalley and Pen Name Publishing in exchange for a honest review. This does not effect my review whatsoever.**

 

NetGalley Description

 

For those who love Alice in Wonderland as much as I do, I highly recommend this book! It has found it’s way to a special place next to my other Alice in Wonderland inspired tales. Question is, are you ready to go into this new twisted world of Wonderland?

 

Rating 9

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

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Release Date: July 25, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion whatsoever.

 

NetGalley Synopsis

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
  
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
           
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
           
And then one of them breaks the rules.
           
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
           
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.”

My Review

Marriage. It’s a chilling subject for me these days. Reaching the age where most of your friends are running off, getting married, having kids is frightening to me. This book did not settle my inner fears in the least. In fact, they increased!

Jeremy and Alice are in their late 30s, successful, and have somewhat good heads on their shoulders. Told through Jeremy’s perspective, he admits in the beginning that the subject of marriage was his idea. Alice, mourning the loss of her father, sparked one of the most important questions any man/woman/etc. could ever ask someone. “Will you marry Me?”

The moment Alice agrees, a chain of events begin starting with their wedding announcement. Alice’s best client in her firm, Finnegan, receives word of the couple’s plans and invites Jeremy and Alice to join him in the secret society known as, “The Pact”. A wooden box arrives on their doorstep with instructions to which they are prohibited to open the box until after their honeymoon. Fast forward, one of Finnegan’s contacts the leaders of “The Pact” and they send a woman by the name of Vivianne to be the couple’s “Host” as she leads Jeremy and Alice into the society.

“The Pact” in it of itself has their own manual the couples need to memorize and live by. If they break the rules, they receive various punishments ranging from silly to severe. And when I say severe, I mean torture, electric shock, unremovable metal braces placed around women’s necks in order to keep them straight, and more. Jeremy and Alice start their journey into this cult, plunging themselves into a world filled with terror and nowhere to run and no way out.

This novel freaked me out in the worst way. If you follow me on Goodreads, read my notes on the book! One moment, I believed Jeremy was falling for the insane punishments “The Pact” was putting his wife through. Then it was as if Alice and Jeremy switched personalities pertaining to the cult! The ending, though, did not live up to the expectations of the novel. It felt rushed and dry, leaving me to wonder what happened to Alice and Jeremy next. As far as I know, this is a standalone novel so I guess we’ll all wonder if they survive……

For a psychological thriller, it’ll keep you on your toes for sure. The writing is solid, but the characters backstories were a bit wonky at times. One moment, you are giving the impression you needed to feel sorry for them while the next you were told they were independent. But, learning from this novel, never accept a wooden box from an Irishman who claims to want the best for your marriage.

 

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

 

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

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Release Date: July 11, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.

 

Goodreads Synopsis

“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.”

 

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Quincy Carpenter picked up the pieces of her life after surviving a massacre at her friend’s party in a cabin in the woods. With the killer dead, she has no need to fear any possible future of him coming back for her. The media follows up with her, giving her the label “Final Girl”, adding her alongside two other young women who survived terrible massacres too. Quincy, though, does not want to live in the spotlight, especially since her mind has blocked her memories of the events of that dark night. The police question her periodically to see if her memories resurface; however, Quincy remains silent in also wondering what truly happened as well.

Now, she has what she thinks is a pleasant, comfortable life, but then Lisa, another massacre survivor, ends up being found mysteriously murdered. The very next day, Quincy finally meets another “Final Girl”, Sam, who at first, seems to only wish to get to know Quincy. The more time Quincy spends time with Sam, the more Sam questions Quincy’s past and her memories of that night. Sam wants Quincy to not to live comfortably in the dark….but why?

Final Girls is a brilliantly crafted thriller for the new age. It takes the question of  “What happens next?” and blows it up to create this world that thrives on digging into these poor girls’ tragic pasts and transforming them into celebrities who merely want to be normal again. Only they cannot be normal ever again nor can they hide from the cameras. These “Final Girls” have secrets and they are about to be exposed, but who will truly be the surviving “Final Girl” in the end?

 

Rating 10

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

 

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

 

Goodreads Description

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker—she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether she likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda.

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way around, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.”

 

Author Jessica Ruddick gives us a different take on the normal Grim Reaper story. Normally, we are led to believe the Grim Reaper works alone, collecting souls of the dead to transport them to heaven or hell. In this version, the Grim Reaper (actually multiple reapers) have seekers searching for specific people to choose for certain tasks.

 

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For Ava, she determines the most innocent of souls for the Grim Reaper to collect in order to create Heaven’s heavenly angel army. Her and her mother come from a long line of seekers who are sent to different locations in order to pick out the innocents for the Grim Reapers. Ava doesn’t wish to continue this heavy burden any longer and is willing to do anything she can in order to back out of her duties. One of which, was an attempt to take her own life only to discover, hah, she can not die! Yeah, this girl along with her mother are practically immortal until Death decides her time is up. Also she has what I like to call a “Crowley” in her life who gives her assignments and is practically the major authority who has the ability to punish her if deemed necessary.

 

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I call him “Crowley” because, well, if you watch the show Supernatural, he practically IS him!

But now Ava runs into a bit of a problem in the new town her and her mother has moved into. A love interest in the form of Cole Fowler saves her life, foiling her suicide attempt and ends up moving to the forefront in our little tale.  I’ll admit, he’s a breath of fresh air compared to the most recent YA male love interest tropes of today. He owns the bad boy air about him but carries his own without being overbearing, whiny, or pushy. He’s the kind of character who does not have to be a love interest but even a brother-like character if need be. Personally, I’d choose him to be the brotherly kind due to the fact he is not the average love interest.

The story brings a pleasant twist to the average Grim Reaper story, adds a new kick to the YA paranormal genre, and gives girls a reliable female protagonist who fights for what she wants instead of merely talking about it. I believe this new series will spark a new brand of followers to the YA community, and I am thrilled I had the honor to read this story. I happily look forward to the second chapter in The Legacy Series.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.